I Talk To My Dad A Year After His Death – Julie Levin

Moldering, becoming mulch,
but that’s not true for you.
Like everyone else she’s laid to rest,
she would have had you cremated. Curious,
how Jewish law forbids tattoos,
unseemly to graffiti God’s walking works.
You would think, after Auschwitz,
burning bodies would be traif.
Not for the reformed. Apparently,
the soul remains whole,
even as the flesh burns away, down
to the gravelly grit of ground bones,
tiny stones of stardust, elements
on the periodic table.
You would have liked that idea.

Remember, after your colectomy,
that first night home, waking
in the darkness to discover
you were starving. I was drunk
with sleeplessness, and when you said,
“I’m so hungry, it’s like Auschwitz,”
I could not stop laughing.
You had a bite of toast, a sip of tea,
and patted the vast mattress
where I climbed in as a child,
monkey in the middle of Daddy

and Mommy. She wants to move
her funeral plot. She doesn’t want
another eternity at your side.
That night while I fed you,
she slept like the dead
at the farthest end of the house,
distance, her secret to a long,
unhappy marriage. She missed out

on your wee hours of lucidity,
between the anesthesia and
your daily cocktail of pot
and Fox News, the mixture
rallying your neurons to fire off volleys
at liberals and gleeful, shrieking children,
the ultra-orthodox neighbors
repopulating the lost six-million.

I savor that hour, lying beside you,
your hand, squeezing mine,
the Morse code of my childhood,
the way I always knew you loved me
without the razor wire of words.


Julie Levin writes poetry and essays centered on finding solace and humor in the everyday. Her writing is informed by her work as a psychotherapist, focused on teaching self-love to adults with childhood trauma. Her work has appeared in the Jacaranda Review, and her first volume of poems, Walking on Water was published in 2020 by Wind in the Reeds press.

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